Well, the guy who, "never gets the flu", finally got the flu. And apparently I’m not alone. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the country is seeing an unusually high number of influenza cases this season. Mostly because a strain of influenza B has been particularly active.
South of the border, the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases is predicting this will be the worst season in the United States in "decades".
I’m noting this partially because it's worth noting and partially to alleviate my own sense of stupidity for not getting a flu shot. In fact, I've never had a flu shot and for the past 20-plus years I’ve never gotten the flu. I've had the odd cold, but never a full-blown flu. Not even in 2004, when a certain strain of influenza A made the rounds that wasn’t covered by the flu vaccine that year. A special vaccine had to be produced and distributed across Canada. A special vaccination centre was set up at the old Cumberland Town Hall on Centrum Blvd. and folks lined up for nearly an hour to get vaccinated.
Now I consider myself to be a fairly hardy individual, but as I write this I've been confined to my bed for three of the past four days. And when I say confined, I mean during the first two days it was all I could do to get out of bed and walk the six feet to the bathroom.
On day three, I thought I was well enough to get out of bed and go see some clients. Big mistake. By the time I got home and crawled back into bed my symptoms were back with a vengeance.
Now, I normally don't do sick well. Just ask my ex-wife who, God Bless, brought me a Care package of ginger ale, chicken noodle soup and Tylenol flu medication, or my kids.
According to them, I have a tendency to overreact. But is it really overreacting when the first two days felt like I was a drug addict going through detox. And if you ask how would I know? I know because I’ve been binge-watching reruns of House., M.D. Or at least I was. The combination of a high fever and a show about a doctor who diagnoses rare diseases, usually at the last minute, can cause one to become... shall I say... delusional. At various times over the past four days I thought I had malaria, Dengue fever, SARS and bacterial meningitis. Turns out I just have the flu.
So the moral of story is A) don't watch House, M.D. when you're deathly ill with the flu and possess an overactive imagination; and B) get your flu shot. I know I will from now on, if for no other reason than to avoid a repeat of the last four. Also it's the neighbourly thing to do. For anyone who I may have passed it on to last week, I’m sorry, but you should have gotten your flu shot too.
Unfortunately, Ottawa Public Health's last free flu shot clinic was held last month. That doesn’t mean you are out of luck. You can get a flu shot without an appointment at any Shopper’s Drug Mart, or you can visit a walk-in clinic. Either way – just do it.
– Fred Sherwin, editor